Schools can link science learning to real world innovations through hands-on labs and authentic engagement, fostering systems-based, interdisciplinary and critical thinking capacities. Unlike the humanities, life sciences innovations continue to manifest and transform the landscape every day. We need a way to keep the learning happening in schools current with the changes in this field. Acera has developed and pilot-tested an 11-unit biology curriculum that aligns with Next Generation Science Standards and offers lab activities such as gene editing with CRISPR and cultivating c-acnes using students’ own skin microbiome samples. Our Life Science Change Agent Teachers series and curricula tools are starting to change the face of high school biology in Massachusetts.
Bringing CRISPR, The Human Microbiome and The Secret Life of Plants to more classrooms
It was June, and although school had recently ended, the learning continued. Leonardo Medina, a teacher at Humanities & Leadership Development High School in Lawrence, was captivated by AceraEI’s free professional development workshops in gene editing and microbiomics, and anticipates his students will be excited about the new units.
“The activity and discussion about CRISPR generated many questions that did not have specific answers, and in many ways that replicates the way scientists work,” he said. “It’ll be very rewarding to see students buy in and engage themselves in the lab activity while they develop a scientist mindset.”
Medina was one of about 25 local high school science teachers who came to Acera to edit genes using CRISPR and/or swab their own foreheads to culture their skin microbiome. The goal – deeply connected to AceraEI’s mission to reinvent life sciences education – is for the teachers to bring these cutting edge curriculae to their own classrooms.
The three-day and two-day intensive workshops this summer were part of a series of trainings led this year by Michael Hirsch in the Life Sciences. Hirsch’s curriculae – developed and pilot-tested at Acera – included hands-on experiments and guidance on how to answer commonly asked questions about the units. As a result of this training, more than 1,000 public school students will soon apply CRISPR to edit a gene or better understand their skin microbiome in their own high school science classrooms.
The workshops were funded through recent $50,000 grants from both the Amgen Foundation and Bristol-Myers Squibb. With additional funding, AceraEI will be able to offer ongoing support to implement the science labs that teach 21st century skills, and release new units which, cumulatively, can reinvent how high school biology is taught.
Gene editing with CRISPR, The Human Microbiome, The Secret Life of Plants, and What Should We Eat are four of nine units developed by Hirsch to reinvent high school biology. Future funding will support the expansion of our life sciences teacher trainings to include the full, year-long curricula, engaging students in cutting-edge biology and fostering the next generation of innovators and scientists.
As of May 2021, Acera Education Innovation (AceraEI) is an authorized PD Provider in Curriculum and Instruction-General and Science and Technology/Engineering for lower elementary, upper elementary, middle school, and high school grade teachers.
According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), PDPs should only be awarded to an educator for professional development that includes all of the following:
Participants of the 2022 LSCAT Cohort are eligible for up to 35 PDPs in Science and Technology/Engineering. If only partially attending the weeklong training, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how many PDPs you are eligible for.
Awards of PDPs are contingent upon the following:
Day 1: Microbiome Part 1
Day 1 Exit Ticket
Day 2: Secret Life of Plants
Day 2 Flipgrid Recording (pw: summer21)
Day 3: What Should We Eat?
Day 3 Exit Ticket
Day 4: Unit Planning Workshop
Day 4 Exit Ticket
Day 5: Microbiome Part 2
Please complete Post-Session Survey below
Complete before Monday, August 15, 2022
Complete after Friday, August 19, 2022
Your Goal: Modify or extend one unit plan from this training in a way that fits your students and context.
Types of artifacts to submit:
Along with the final artifact, submit a written paragraph addressing the following:
Most importantly, this artifact should enable you to implement a unit (or more) in the next school year.
If you attended this workshop with a colleague(s), please work with them. If you did not attend with a colleague from your school, you may work alone on this assignment.
Time during the PD week will be allocated to developing this artifact. Submit your artifact and written description to email@example.com by Friday, August 26, 2022. Upon review and evidence of mastery, by mid-September you will receive a PDP certificate via email.